Monthly Archives: January 2016

A MANIFESTO ON THE SIMPLE LIFE – PART TWO by Michael Lewin

READ “ THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IDLE “ BY STEPHEN ROBINS.

SLEEP IN MORE.

START WRITING YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

INVITE YOUR NEIGHBOURS AROUND FOR AFTERNOON TEA.

FULLY ENGAGE WITH ALL THE PLEASURES YOUR LIFE BRINGS.

CULTIVATE GRATITUDE FOR EVERY GIFT YOU HAVE RECEIVED.

ALWAYS BE PATIENT AND POLITE TO OTHERS.

GROW AND PROPAGATE INDOOR PLANTS.

GET TO KNOW NEW PEOPLE.

ACCEPT CHANGE AS AN INEVITABLE PART OF LIFE.

RESEARCH YOUR FAMILY TREE.

TREAT ADVERSITY AS AN ADVENTURE.

SEE LIFE AS A CONTINUOUS LEARNING CURVE.

WEATHER PERMITTING, SIT IN THE GARDEN MORE AND READ A NICE BOOK.

UNDERTAKE EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES ( SUCH AS WASHING UP OR CLEANING SHOES ) AS A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE.

GIVE THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN.

GROW MORE FLOWERS.

LISTEN MORE, ESPECIALLY TO YOUR OWN DEEPER THOUGHTS.

CULTIVATE IDLENESS IN YOUR LIFE AND DON’T BE APOLOGETIC ABOUT IT.

BE INSPIRED.

SIMPLIFY EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE – BE BOLD.

BUY A TREE TO PLANT SOMEWHERE.

TAKE UP TAI CHI.

SAVE ALL YOUR FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS DIGITALLY.

SUBSCRIBE TO REPUTABLE GREEN MAGAZINES.

GIVE REGULAR DONATIONS TO GOOD CAUSES, MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

GIVE AWAY ALL YOUR UNWANTED POSSESSIONS.

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF – YOUR HEALTH IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE.

BE AT PEACE WITH YOURSELF, SLEEP WELL.

FINALLY, THE POETRY OF THE JAPANESE POET RYOKAN:

“My life is like an old run-down hermitage poor, simple, quiet.

Don’t say my hut has nothing of offer, come and I will share with you the cool breeze that fills my window.”

 

 

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Hakim Sanai

Naked in the Bee-House by Hakim Sanai (1044? – 1150?)

English version by Coleman Barks

Being humble is right for you now.

Don’t thrash around showing your strength.

You’re naked in the bee-house!

It doesn’t matter how powerful your arms and legs are.

To God, that is more of a lie than your weakness is.

In his doorway your prestige and your physical energy are just dust on your face.

Be helpless and completely poor.

And don’t try to meet his eye!

That’s like signing a paper that honors yourself.

If you can take care of things, do so!

But when you’re living at home with God, you neither sew the world together with desires nor tear it apart with disappointments.

In that place existence itself is illusion.

All that is, is one.

Lost in that, your personal form becomes a vast, empty mosque.

When you hold on to yourself, you’re a fire-worshipping temple.

Dissolve, and let everything get done.

When you don’t, you’re an untrained colt, full of erratic loving and biting.

Loyal sometimes, then treacherous.

Be more like the servant who owns nothing and is neither hungry nor satisfied, who has no hopes for anything, and no fear of anyone.

An owl living near the king’s palace is considered a bird of misfortune, ragged and ominous.

But off in the woods, sitting alone, its feathers grow splendid and sleek like the Phoenix restored.

Musk should not be kept near water or heat.

The dampness and the dryness spoil its fragrance.

But when the musk is at home in the musk bladder, fire and wetness mean nothing.

In God’s doorway your guilt and your virtue don’t count.

Whether you’re Muslim, or Christian, or fire-worshipper, the categories disappear.

You’re seeking, and God is what is sought, the essence beyond any cause.

External theological learning moves like a moon and fades when the sun of experience rises.

We are here for a week, or less.

We arrive and leave almost simultaneously.

To be is not to be.

The Qur’an says, “They go hastening, with the Light running on before them.”

Clear the way! Muhammed says, “How fine!”

A sigh goes out, and there is union.

Forget how you came to this gate, your history.

Let that be as if it had not been.

Do you think the day plans its course by what the rooster says?

God does not depend on any of his creatures.

Your existence or non-existence is insignificant.

Many like you have come here before.

When the fountain of light is pouring, there’s no need to urge it on!

That’s like a handful of straw trying to help the sun. “This way! Please, let this light through!”

The sun doesn’t need an announcer.

The lamp you carry is your self-reliance.

The sun is something else!

Half a sneeze might extinguish your langern, whereas all a winter’s windiness cannot put That out.

The road you must take has no particular name.

It’s the one composed of your own sighing and giving up.

What you’ve been doing is not devotion.

Your hoping and worrying are like donkeys wandering loose, sometimes docile, or suddenly mean.

Your face looks wise at times, and ashamed at others.

There is another way, a pure blankness where those are one expression.

Omar once saw a group of boys on the road challenging each other to wrestle.

They were all claiming to be champions, but when Omar, the fierce and accomplished warrior, came near, they scattered. All but one, Abdullah Zubair.

Omar asked, “Why didn’t you run?” “Why should I? You are not a tyrant, and I am not guilty.”

When someone knows his own inner value, he doesn’t care about being accepted or rejected by anyone else.

The prince here is strong and just.

Stand wondering in his presence.

There is nothing but That.

I must develop my own art project

“Caitlin Moran’s husband – Caitlin Moran, the writer and journalist, her husband – when he’s doing something that he knows he might fail at massively like tiling the bathroom or worming the cat, he calls it his “art project.” ( LAUGHTER ) This is a worrying trend because I think it shows … It’s a wider trend. You know this kind of amateurism, this sort of … this kind of mucking about thing, it’s all-pervading, I think – you know that often someone who’s not very good at making television programmes becomes a video artist or someone who’s not particularly good at writing hit songs becomes an art band, you know.”

From Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures 2013

 

 

Let’s treat life like it’s an art project

 

“My colleague Christopher Cook ran the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for one year as a work of art. Like other conceptual artists in the early 1970’s, he was attempting to demonstrate that boundaries need not exist between art and life. Cook approached everything he did during his year as ICA director as part of an artwork. At the end of the year his work culminated in an exhibition where his office was re-created; videotaped and photographic documentation on his activities over the past year were displayed, along with various papers, notes, and artefacts. People attending the show participated in the yearlong artistic project and were invited to continue the process of integrating art and life in their own experience.”

Shaun McNiff

LOVE – THAT’S IT!

 

Martin Luther King Jnr.

Excerpt from the speech Where Do We Go From Here.

I HAVE DECIDED TO STICK WITH LOVE

” I’m concerned about a better World. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that. And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. […] and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality. And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels; you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not love, it means nothing. Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the gift of scientific prediction and understand the behavior of molecules; you may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights; yes, you may ascend to the heights of academic achievement so that you have all knowledge; and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing. You may even give your goods to feed the poor; you may bestow great gifts to charity; and you may tower high in philanthropy; but if you have not love, your charity means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned and die the death of a martyr, and your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as one of history’s greatest heroes; but if you have not love, your blood was spilt in vain. What I’m trying to get you to see this morning is that a man may be self-centered in his self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego, and his piety may feed his pride. So without love, benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom becomes spiritual pride.”

 

Martin Luther King Jnr

King used the phrase “I have a dream” eight times in his address to about 2,000 people at Booker T Washington High School in Rocky Mount in eastern North Carolina, eight months before he electrified the country during the so-called March on Washington, the Associated Press said.

He also referred to “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners,” saying he dreamed they would “meet at the table of brotherhood”.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where he spoke in Washington King changed that to “sit down together at the table of brotherhood”. In both speeches, “Let Freedom Ring” served as his rallying cry.

Experts have said it may have been fortunate that King practiced the “dream” section of his speech in North Carolina, and later in Detroit, as it was not part of the type-written text prepared for Washington.

Indeed, historians say the singer Mahalia Jackson shouted “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” as he reached a slow point in his prepared text. King then improvised, and lit up the audience.

The Independent 12/8/15

Alex Soth on photography

“ It’s so stupid. It’s so obvious… Everyone can do it, and yet certain moments have this magic. And that’s what you’re always looking for. I make the analogy with popular music. In some ways, it’s so easy to write a pop song, but why do certain ones do that thing that touches a nerve and makes them a hit? It’s such a subtle little mix of elements. It drives me crazy because I’ll often go out and think it’s super easy – you can just point the camera anywhere and make a picture – and it just doesn’t capture it at all. To this day, it’s really mysterious to me.”

David Bailey on photography

“” It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary”

David Bailey

“ My style is nothing. It sounds really pretentious – my way of making everything minimal. Just concentrating on the person and getting rid of everything else. It’s just the person I want – that’s the only thing I want – I don’t want anything else. I don’t want their hands or silly things that look like they’re on the back of a book. I just want very sophisticated passport pictures really – which are quite hard to do! “

David Bailey

“ The pictures don’t get better the longer you’re around the subject. The moment’s the moment. And you don’t want them to be bored with you either, because the magic goes. You have to do the magic quick. If I go to Delhi, I get off the plane and I start photographing because five days later it all starts to look normal.”

David Bailey

Everyone is going to take one great picture in their life and hopefully I’ll do two so I’ll have the edge.”

David Bailey

“ I don’t think you’re ever successful. I think if you become successful artistically….you might as well stop and play chess, like Marcel Duchamp. There’s no point in going on. I’m distressed every time the contact sheets come back, every time I see the results of a job: I think ‘ My God, after fifty years of mucking about with photography I’m still getting it wrong.’ I get it wrong all the time, and it’s so depressing that I want to keep trying.”

David Bailey

“ Curiosity is everything. If you don’t have curiosity you don’t have anything. That’s the thing that keeps you going. “

David Bailey

 

“ [ Bailey’s ] final photograph is always remarkable. In my view, only a handful of photographers, Man Ray for instance, had this ability to impose an individual vision on a mechanical process again and again. “

George Melly

 

“Horrible. An uptight, petit-bourgeois Frenchman. Incredible someone so talented could be like that.”

David Bailey on Cartier Bresson